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Heaven Scent

I haven’t read any of Gervase Phinn’s works, but I have heard Sir Ken Robinson, during his famous TED Talk on education, refer to one of the former’s more popular excerpts. Towards the end of his book, A Wayne in a Manger, Gervase Phinn describes part of a school nativity play:

“I am the King of the North,” said one little boy, kneeling before the manger and laying down a brightly wrapped box. “I bring you gold.”

“I am the King of the South,” said the second, kneeling before the manger and laying down a large coloured jar. “I bring you myrrh.’

“I am the King of the East,” said the third and smallest child, kneeling before the manger and laying down a silver bowl. “And Frank sent this.”

It’s Christmastime once more, and we are sure to hear about the magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh once again. While these valuable items were standard gifts given to kings thousands of years ago, it is not as common nowadays to either give or receive them this Yuletide season. (No wonder the third magi child in the play had no idea what frankincense was, much less pronounce it. Who can blame him?) And while there have been many interpretations about what each of these gifts mean symbolically, i.e., gold representing Christ’s kinship, frankincense symbolizing of Christ’s priestly role, and myrrh prefiguring Christ’s death and embalming, could it be that the magi gave Jesus these gifts for their practical purposes? Did you know that one of them, frankincense in particular, had tremendous healing properties?

Mainly used in aromatherapy, frankincense oil has been known to contain powerful healing properties. True story: the mother of our friend, Allan, had been experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for quite some time. And in more than one occasion, she has had episodes when she does not recognize her own family. Upon hearing about how it improves memory, Allan tried diffusing frankincense oil in his mother’s room on a regular basis. Within only a few days, his mother became more lucid and recognized them more easily. This and many more are testament to the wonders of frankincense oil.

According to Dr. Axe, frankincense oil reduces heart rate and high blood pressure when inhaled. Like other prescription medication, it has anti-anxiety and depression-reducing abilities. But unlike other prescription medication, frankincense does not have negative side effects or cause unwanted drowsiness. Frankincense, too, has immune-enhancing abilities. Because of its antiseptic and disinfectant properties, frankincense helps eliminate dangerous bacteria, viruses, and even cancers. In relation to this, many people use frankincense to help prevent gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, tooth aches, mouth sores, and other mouth infections.

We already know that frankincense improves memory, but did you know that it also improves sleep, fertility, and digestion? Inhaling frankincense helps in lowering levels of anxiety or chronic stress. Its calming and grounding scent helps one to naturally fall asleep. Frankincense also reduces symptoms of menstruation and menopause by balancing hormone levels. It helps regulate estrogen production and may reduce the risk of tumor or cyst development in premenopausal women. In animal studies, it even increased fertility and suggests that it may increase sperm motility and density. Frankincense helps improve digestion by speeding up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increasing urination production, and relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract as well.

Frankincense is also good for its cosmetic properties. It strengthens the skin and improves its tone and elasticity. It also reduces the appearance of scars and acne, and it helps heal wounds. According to the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, frankincense oil reduces redness and skin irritation. No wonder may people use it to treat stretch marks, surgery scars, and dry or cracked skin.

While it is possible that the magi gave Jesus frankincense to represent him as the Great High Priest, one who is holy and the mediator between God and man, it may not be far from the imagination that they also gave him frankincense because its health benefits are fit for a king.

I, myself, never would have known what frankincense smelled like until my wife introduced it in our home. This may sound corny, but when I first had a whiff of its earthly aroma, I was briefly transported to more than two thousand years ago when the magi presented it at the feet of the infant Jesus. Its scent gave me an idea of what it was like to experience heaven on earth during the birth of Christ. And what better way to prepare your home this Christmas than to fill it with the fragrance of the First Christmas.

May the Spirit of Christmas be upon each of your homes. Merry Christmas, everyone!





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